Carnes: Why are the so-called tough guys of the world afraid of teenagers? (column) |

Carnes: Why are the so-called tough guys of the world afraid of teenagers? (column)

I keep wondering, especially lately, why the so-called tough guys of the world are the ones most afraid of everything. I have never seen so many so afraid of so much, and currently their biggest fear appears to be American teenagers.

Granted, these are not ordinary teenagers; they are teenagers growing up in a world of social media, an attribute unavailable to every preceding generation since the beginning of recorded history. And like all the others, they have opinions; only theirs can be shared instantaneously around the globe.

Nothing new about teens having opinions, of course, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed such fear of them from the type of adults who usually have ruled the airwaves with John Wayne-styled tough talk and feel inclined to be packing heat when going grocery shopping “just in case.”

Yet they’re scared to death of today’s teens.

Overly macho nutcases such as Alex Jones have gone ballistic in their attacks on the Parkland students, especially the outspoken teen Emma Gonzalez, all the while still claiming the government is “coming for your guns.”

It’s not gender-specific, either, as proven by Fox News’ Laura Ingraham and her childish attacks on teenager David Hogg, the senior who hid alongside other students in a closet while a psycho with a gun killed 17 of their classmates and teachers.

And it’s not only teenagers they fear.

We have a pretend tough-guy president afraid of adult film stars, low ratings and Putins named Vladimir.

We have pretend tough guy and pretend intellectual Steve Bannon and his fear that the conspiratorial New World Order of one religion, one government, one currency can only be controlled with a complete dismantling of the American government.

We have religious leaders afraid of women, science and people in love being legally married; political leaders afraid of lobbyists, donors and not being re-elected; hawks afraid of Iran, Iraq and not having a proxy war with Russia via Syria; doves afraid of climate change, losing social services and anyone being offended at any time for anything.

There’s clowns, spiders, doctors, liberals, conservatives, immigrants, those of different colors and, of course, Mexicans of all shapes and sizes, and this is just a short list.

What in the world is everyone so afraid of?

Fear breeds hate.

Hate breeds violence.

Violence breeds religion.

Religion breeds ignorance.

Ignorance breeds fear.

Wash, rinse, repeat in this never-ending cycle.

Yet it’s the tough guys and their fears that worry me (I fear?) the most, and they’re the most likely to overreact to a situation, invariably making it much worse (black guys holding cellphones?).

They hold tightly with a fragile grasp on existence in constant fear of their world being shattered by reality, all by a group of well-intentioned teens.

So, yes, I suppose I fear the fearful, but wish they could replace their fear of the unknown with curiosity, and at least try to understand and not be so afraid all the time. We’d all be better off in the long run, even the tough guys.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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